Fabrication 1

I’m taking the first two fabrication classes at Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco this week (just finished Fabrication 1 yesterday; starting Fabrication 2 today. I never did talk about the wax carving class I took here last summer; is anyone interested? I suppose posting belatedly is better than not posting at all.)

Although I had some soldering experience, enough that I debated skipping Fab 1, I really learned a ton in the past three days. It went far beyond basic soldering skills; we also learned how to saw, file, sand, buff, and polish. We learned about tools — we made tools. I had no idea how little I understood about metals and hardness. It was quite an experience.

Fabrication 1: earrings. At this point they are glued together and sawn as one unit, so they'll match exactly.

Probably the most complex project we made was a pair of pierced (cut-out), domed earrings in a matched geometric pattern. (Apologies in advance for my crummy phone-camera pictures; it never seems to focus on what I’m photographing.) We started by cleaning two pieces of silver and gluing them together, then gluing on a pattern to cut out. Holes are drilled in the middle of each cut-out, so a saw blade can be strung through and each section can be sawed out. Once the interior cuts are done, the outside is sawed to form a circle. The piece is then filed as a unit, to smooth out the cut-outs and the outside, before the pieces are separated into a matched set.

Fabrication 1: earrings, separated and domed

Once separated, the earrings are domed using a dapping block — a cube with half-round holes in it, of various sizes; you stick the flat piece into the size you want, then use a large peg with a spherical end (a dap) and a mallet to form the domed shape. After this, additional filing is done to the individual earrings, and a lot of sanding to remove any file marks, scratches or pits. Once this is done, the pieces are buffed, earring posts are soldered onto the back, then another trip through the buffer and final polishing is done.

We also made three rings: one in nickel, using round wire; one in silver, using square wire; and one in gold-fill, using half-round wire. In each case, we learned to properly calculate the length of wire needed to accurately size the ring, soldered it appropriately based on what type of metal it was, and clean up the solder joint to form a seamless ring. (Your seamless-ness may vary, though I’m happy enough with them that I’m wearing them all at once. Jewelry class is making me particularly bling-tastic, today.)

Finally, yesterday afternoon, we made a small bezel pendant with an onyx stone, with a soldered jump ring. Although I’ve made many a bezel setting before, I learned a new method of doing it, and this was by far the smallest bezel I’ve made or set.

Here’s the finished pieces!

Fabrication 1: pierced domed earrings; three rings in nickel, silver, and gold; bezel pendant.

Fabrication 1: pierced domed earrings; three rings in nickel, silver, and gold; bezel pendant.


  1. Kathy Eslinger says

    Wow I am so impressed. I will be able to say I knew you when when you become a famous jewelery fabricator. Rock on;